Mas de Daumas Gassac embraces horsepower

Languedoc estate Mas de Daumas Gassac has signalled a “new phase” in its viticultural work with the introduction of horse ploughing on its best vineyard plots.

Horse ploughing has been introduced on the Peyrafioc and Peynaud plots of the Mas Daumas estate (Photo: Mas de Daumas Gassac)

The horses will be used to plough two of the oldest and most highly prized vineyard plots on the organic Mas Daumas estate, Peyrafioc and Peynaud – plots whose ice-age red scree soil provides the terroir signature of Mas de Daumas Gassac’s red wines, according to the estate owner and winemaker Samuel Guibert.

Guibert said the idea of introducing horse ploughing on the estate was prompted by his mother, Veronique, who co-founded Mas de Daumas Gassac with her husband, the late Aimé Guibert, in 1971. Veronique Guibert recalled that Jean Daumas, the previous owner of Mas Daumas, used horses to plough his vineyards.

Samuel Guibert said switching from tractor ploughing to gentler horse ploughing on Peyrafioc and Peynaud would help to preserve the health and vitality of the soil by minimising soil compaction. He also suggested there was a sense of appropriateness in returning to an agricultural method with which the estate has a long tradition.

“We are not re-inventing anything,” he told db. “There are still strong memories and emotions arising on the estate.

Samuel Guibert, pictured left with brothers Gaël, Roman and Basile, says that horse ploughing will help to preserve the health and vitality of oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard plots of the Mas Daumas estate (Photo: Mas de Daumas Gassac)

“The Gassac terroir has always been respected by its owner, even before my parents purchased the Mas de Daumas farm in 1971.”

“For the past 45 years we have been preserving that terroir. Now our goal is to go one step forward and be even more proactive by lowering any pressure we might put on the ground.

“Horse ploughing is an exciting step toward preserving life in a soil that has never seen any pesticide, chemicals or genetically modified products.”

Aimé and Veronique Guibert discovered the Daumas estate in 1970 while searching for a new home the Hérault region, purchasing it a year later.

Their friend, and eminent geologist, Professor Henri Enjalbert explained to them that the ice age scree covered land would be ideal for producing high quality wine grapes, likening it to the best soil in Burgundy’s Côtes d’Or. “It’s quite possible to make a Grand Cru here,” Enjalbert told them.

Guibert explained that to preserve the health and vitality of the soil it was essential to the most sensitive ploughing methods possible. Using tractors had a negative impact on the soil, he said, compacting it and destroying the beneficial organisms, such as worms, that lived under the surface.

Although most of the soil on the estate contains a relatively high quantity of rocks or gravel, meaning there is little risk of compaction, the estate’s oldest Cabernet Sauvignon plots are planted on softer soil. Switching from tractor to horse would have a much lighter impact than any machine, with the added benefit that it was much tidier, he said.

Often referred to as the ‘Lafite of the Languedoc’, Mas de Daumas Gassac is regarded by many as the Languedoc region’s most prestigious wine estate, with demand for its wines increasing every year.

In November last year db reported how the estate has successfully allocated the entire production of its 2015 red en primeur following an “extraordinary” reaction from international merchants.

Samuel Guibert will be representing Mas de Daumas Gassac at this year’s Real Wine Fair, to be held at Tobacco Dock on 7-8 May.

One Response to “Mas de Daumas Gassac embraces horsepower”

  1. John Elwes says:

    I still have a case of 1984 Mas de Daumas Gassac bought when I lived near Montpellier in the 1980s.I also possess a 1978, maybe the first récolté. The 1984 corks are feeble but the wine is still adored by all. Never served to guzzlers!!

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